The Absolute

Thomas

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The Absolute

A philosophical term with various meanings in modern usage, but traditionally when applied to the Deity, signifies:
That which is complete and perfect;
That which exists by its own nature and is consequently independent of everything else;
That which is related to no other;

Subject to no addition nor subtraction, no increase nor diminution, does not grow nor decay, does not move nor is moved ... (you get the idea) ...

+++

The Absolute is a name for God which Christian philosophy readily accepted from the Greek.

St. Thomas Aquinas emphasised the absoluteness of God by showing that he cannot be classed under any genus or species, and that His essence is identical with His existence. He also anticipates the difficulties which arise from the use of the term Absolute in the sense of unrelated being, and which are brought out in some modern discussion.

Some argued that the Absolute could not correspond to the First Cause, for the reason that causation implies relation, and the Absolute is outside of all relation. St. Thomas' solution is that God and created things are related in the effects upon the latter only, with no conditioning or modification of the Absolute.

In Himself ineffable, we are obliged to conceive of God as one term of a relation, but not to infer that the relation affects Him as it affects the created thing which is the other term (therefore God does not lose his temper).

This distinction is based on experience. The process of knowledge involves a relation between the known object and the knowing subject, but the character of the relation is not the same in both terms. In the mind it is real because perception and thought imply the exercise of mental faciilties, and consequently a modification of the mind itself. No such modification, however, reaches the object; this is the same whether we perceive it or not.

But there is a problem:
If one claims that the Absolute can neither be known nor conceived, then the very term 'absolute' cannot be predicated without contradiction — "To think is to condition" and as the Absolute is by its very nature unconditioned, no effort of thought can reach it. To say that God is the Absolute is equivalent to saying that He is unknowable.

God, precisely because He is the Absolute, is beyond the range of any knowledge whatever on our part. Belief in the Absolute then, must express itself in terms that are meaningless.

To avoid this conclusion we take as our starting-point facts that are knowable and known — contingency, change, and so forth. From here we can reason our way to the concept of an Absolute.

Such methodology was employed by St. Thomas and Christian philosophy generally. The method which St. Thomas formulated, and which his successors adopted, keeps steadily in view the requirements of critical thinking, and especially the danger of applying the forms of our human knowledge, without due refinement, to the Divine Being.

The warning against the anthropomorphic tendency is always needful, but nothing can be gained by the attempt to form a concept of God which offers nought but a negation of all human thought and activity.

Thomas
 
Excellent post Thomas (the System *curse you System!* will not let me give you good rep at this time :)).

I think the 'gulf' between the Absolute and we who are contingent is bridged by faith. We trust that we can accept meaningful revelation from God and what we grope toward as being 'good' is based in a God Who is absolute Good, however darkened the glass may appear to us at this time.

All with a good dose of humility.
 
The Absolute, by definition, is utterly BEYOND all possible knowledge ... or relationship therewith. Anyone who speaks otherwise -- is lying. YOU do not have knowledge of the Absolute, I do not have knowledge of the Absolute, and St. Thomas Aquinas does not have knowledge of the Absolute. Nor is it possible to gain insight into the nature of the Absolute.

Now, if you wish to speak of a great Being of some sort, and find a reference out of world mythology or spiritual/mystical experience ... then we can speak of what it might be like to know or relate to this Being. We can even speak of sublime states of awareness, and what existence might be like in these other realms of existence. But we CANNOT speak of the Absolute -- or relate to `it' in any way, via faith, or otherwise.

The mistake here is in letting the mind get the better of you. This is false ego, bringing the holy down into the muck & mire of everyday -- i.e. `mundane' -- existence. And this is the inability of the finite to grasp the INFINITE.

Once again, that book on the shelf will do you no good ... if it is never taken down, dusted off, opened, studied and pondered. Searching for the answers where they do not exist is no substitute. An effort to clear up some kind of misunderstanding of the ABSOLUTE ... might - at best - be a noble one, though I think there are actually quite different motivations. But you cannot clear up my misconceptions, if it is not my confusion which we are dealing with.

Satan cannot cast out Satan.
In the case of a fundamental misconception regarding the true GROUND of all Being, you cannot dig yourself out of a hole by digging deeper. I don't care who you may cite as your authority, or what wonderful accolades your latter-day authorities might have given him ... or her. The same holds true. The conditional, or conditioned, cannot know the Unconditional/Unconditioned. Back to the basics of Buddhism.

If you want to speak of the God that is knowable (AVALOKITESVARA = Avaloka + Ishvara -- "the Lord Who is seen"), then that is one thing. Even then, you look down your nose at me and tell me that I don't know what I think I know. Perhaps I do the same, but at least we potentially share common ground, whether we choose to, or not.

The first few lines of the Hindu Gayatri point us in the right direction:
Oh Thou, Who givest sustenance to the universe,
From Whom all things proceed
To Whom all things return,
Reveal to us the true, SPIRITUAL SUN
HIDDEN by a disc of Golden Light ....
Hmmmm ....
 
Thomas, I would heartily recommend (and I do mean this) that you revisit the teachings of Proclus ... or even Plotinus. I myself have started with a sneak peek by visiting Wikipedia, and here's what you can find as a summary of the philosophy of Proclus. Please pay careful attention to his views regarding monism, at the end of the first paragraph:
System

Proclus' system, like that of the other Neoplatonists, is a combination of Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic elements. In its broad outlines, Proclus' system agrees with that of Plotinus. However, following Iamblichus, Plutarch of Athens (not to be confused with Plutarch of Chaeronea), and his master Syrianus, Proclus presents a much more elaborate universe than Plotinus, subdividing the elements of Plotinus' system into their logically distinct parts, and positing these parts as individual things. This multiplication of entities is balanced by the monism which is common to all Neoplatonists. What this means is that, on the one hand the universe is composed of hierarchically distinct things, but on the other all things are part of a single continuous emanation of power from the One. From this latter perspective, the many distinctions to be found in the universe are a result of the divided perspective of the human soul, which needs to make distinctions in its own thought in order to understand unified realities. The idealist tendency is taken further in John Scotus Eriugena

There is a double motivation found in Neoplatonic systems. The first is a need to account for the origin and character of all things in the universe. The second is a need to account for how we can know this origin and character of things. These two aims are related: they begin from the assumption that we can know reality, and then ask the question of what reality must be like, in its origin and unfolding, so that we can know it. An important element in the Neoplatonic answer to these questions is its reaction to Scepticism. In response to the sceptical position that we only know the appearances presented by our senses, and not the world as it is, Plotinus placed the object of knowledge inside the soul itself, and accounted for this interior truth through the soul's kinship with its own productive principles.
Yes, I know the Western mind doesn't like this sort of thing ... but if the GREEKS could understand it, then I believe that so can we. I believe Donovan Leitch put it a bit like this, some several decades ago --
First there is a mountain then there is no mountain, then there is
First there is a mountain then there is no mountain
 
"The Absolute, by definition, is utterly BEYOND all possible knowledge ... or relationship therewith. Anyone who speaks otherwise -- is lying. YOU do not have knowledge of the Absolute, I do not have knowledge of the Absolute, and St. Thomas Aquinas does not have knowledge of the Absolute. Nor is it possible to gain insight into the nature of the Absolute."

Then The Absolute is absolutely worthless as a concept except as a mind game. Not much different than "Don't think of a red rhinoceros".;)
 
The Absolute, by definition, is utterly BEYOND all possible knowledge ... or relationship therewith. Anyone who speaks otherwise -- is lying.
Well, you're entitled to that view, of course, but my tradition does not place a limit on the human possibility ... rather it harmonises the Salvation History of the Hebrews and the Philosophical Tradition of the Greeks, it's from the latter that we derive the term 'Absolute' in the first place.

I tend to side with the likes of Plato and Aristotle — indeed, the Greek philosophical tradition generally — that we can speculate, and indeed we can reach certain truths through insight, inspiration, hard work and the grace of God.

There are a number of philosophical models that demonstrate that one indeed can say a great deal about the nature of the Absolute ... I shall post a more generic statement from a Sufi Sheik, an acknowledged master of Comparative Religion, later ...

YOU do not have knowledge of the Absolute, I do not have knowledge of the Absolute, and St. Thomas Aquinas does not have knowledge of the Absolute. Nor is it possible to gain insight into the nature of the Absolute.
Well there's your paradox: unless your knowledge is absolute in itself, that is unless you claim both omniscience and infallibility, you can't make absolute statements.

But I understand if you believe strongly in the doctrines of your own tradition, but I must admit surprise that someone like yourself would accept such a limitation on human knowing ... but that is a sign of faith, I suppose.

Thomas
 
Hi Andrew —

Thomas, I would heartily recommend (and I do mean this) that you revisit the teachings of Proclus ... or even Plotinus.
Oh indeed I do, often ... I have Mark Julian Edwards' (cited as a reference in Wiki) "Neoplatonic Saints: The Lives of Plotinus and Proclus by their Students" which Chicago University Press said is "... fundamental for the understanding not only of Neoplatonism" and "this new commentary makes full use of recent scholarship."

Of course, the Fathers were well aware of Plotinus and Proclus ... but to answer you precisely:
This multiplication of entities is balanced by the monism which is common to all Neoplatonists.
Of course, Christianity, indeed the Abrahamic Traditions, refutes monism, precisely in defence of the Absolute! (Monism renders the absolute subject to change and alteration, growth and decay, expansion and contraction ... and indeed corruption ... )

This is not a fault of the Neoplatonists as such, simply they lacked the Data of Revelation.

There is a double motivation found in Neoplatonic systems. The first is a need to account for the origin and character of all things in the universe. The second is a need to account for how we can know this origin and character of things. These two aims are related: they begin from the assumption that we can know reality, and then ask the question of what reality must be like, in its origin and unfolding, so that we can know it. An important element in the Neoplatonic answer to these questions is its reaction to Scepticism.

So the Neplatonists say they can know of the Absolute (even if not absolutely) whereas you seem to adopt the Sceptical position, that one can know nothing.

In response to the sceptical position that we only know the appearances presented by our senses, and not the world as it is, Plotinus placed the object of knowledge inside the soul itself, and accounted for this interior truth through the soul's kinship with its own productive principles.
There! I hope my emphasis of the text highlights that the Neoplatonist refutes Kant and the Empiricists, in fact all Enlightenment Philosophy, as does the Christian, for the same reasons!

Yes, I know the Western mind doesn't like this sort of thing ...
The Post-Enlightenment mindset, I agree, but the Traditionalist? Nay! We 'absolutely' revels in it!

But I'm confused now ... on the one hand you insist one can know nothing of the absolute, on the other you want to champion those very philosophers who tell us we can ... ?

Thomas
 
Here are some extracts from the luminous pen of Frithjof Schuon ...

The Absolute is not the Absolute inasmuch as it contains aspects, but inasmuch as It transcends them.

If we were to be asked what the Absolute is, we would reply first of all that it is necessary and not merely possible Reality; absolute Reality, hence infinite and perfect, precisely; and we would add – in conformity with the level of the question asked – that the Absolute is that which, in the world, is reflected as the existence of things. Without the Absolute, there is no existence; the aspect of absoluteness of a thing is what distinguishes it from inexistence, if one may so put it. Compared to empty space, each grain of sand is a miracle.

The Absolute, or the Essence, intrinsically comprises Infinitude; it is as the Infinite that it radiates. Divine Radiation projects the Essence into the “void,” but without there being any "going out" whatsoever, for the Principle is immutable and indivisible, nothing can be taken away from it; by this projection on the surface of a nothingness that in itself is inexistent, the Essence is reflected in the mode of "forms" or "accidents." But the "life" of the Infinite is not only centrifugal, it is also centripetal; it is alternately or simultaneously – depending on the relationships envisaged – Radiation and Reintegration; the latter is the apocatastatic "return" of forms and accidents into the Essence, without nevertheless there being anything added to the latter, for it is absolute Plenitude. Moreover, and even above all, Infinitude – like Perfection – is an intrinsic characteristic of the Absolute: it is as it were its inward life, or its love which by overflowing, so to speak prolongs itself and creates the world.

Only the definition of the Absolute as such is absolute, and every explanatory description belongs to relativity precisely on account of the differentiated nature of its content, which is not for that reason incorrect, to be sure, but rather, is limited and therefore replaceable; so that if one wishes to give an absolute definition of the Absolute, one has to say that God is One.

In metaphysics, it is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite. That is absolute which allows of no augmentation or diminution, or of no repetition or division; it is therefore that which is at once solely itself and totally itself. And that is infinite which is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary; it is in the first place Potentiality or Possibility as such, and ipso facto the Possibility of things, hence Virtuality. Without All-Possibility, there would be neither Creator nor creation, neither Maya nor Samsara. The Infinite is so to speak the intrinsic dimension of plenitude proper to the Absolute; to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other. We can symbolize the relation between these two aspects of Supreme Reality by the following images: in space, the absolute is the point, and the infinite is extension; in time, the absolute is the moment, and the infinite is duration. On the plane of matter, the absolute is the ether – the underlying and omnipresent primordial substance – whereas the infinite is the indefinite series of substances; on the plane of form, the absolute is the sphere – the simple, perfect and primordial form – and the infinite is the indefinite series of more or less complex forms; finally, on the plane of number, the absolute will be unity or unicity, and the infinite will be the unlimited series of numbers or possible quantities, or totality. The distinction between the Absolute and the Infinite expresses the two fundamental aspects of the Real, that of essentiality and that of potentiality; this is the highest principial prefiguration of the masculine and feminine poles. Universal Radiation, thus Maya both divine and cosmic, springs from the second aspect, the Infinite, which coincides with All-Possibility.

The Absolute, imperceptible as such, makes itself visible through the existence of things; in an analogous manner, the Infinite reveals itself
through their inexhaustible diversity; and similarly, Perfection manifests itself through the qualities of things, and in so doing, it communicates both the rigor of the Absolute and the radiance of the Infinite, for things have their musicality as well as their geometry.

Selected from a Glossary of the works of Frithjof Schuon.

Thomas
 
Here are some extracts from the luminous pen of Frithjof Schuon ...

The Absolute is not the Absolute inasmuch as it contains aspects, but inasmuch as It transcends them.

If we were to be asked what the Absolute is, we would reply first of all that it is necessary and not merely possible Reality; absolute Reality, hence infinite and perfect, precisely; and we would add – in conformity with the level of the question asked – that the Absolute is that which, in the world, is reflected as the existence of things. Without the Absolute, there is no existence; the aspect of absoluteness of a thing is what distinguishes it from inexistence, if one may so put it. Compared to empty space, each grain of sand is a miracle.

The Absolute, or the Essence, intrinsically comprises Infinitude; it is as the Infinite that it radiates. Divine Radiation projects the Essence into the “void,” but without there being any "going out" whatsoever, for the Principle is immutable and indivisible, nothing can be taken away from it; by this projection on the surface of a nothingness that in itself is inexistent, the Essence is reflected in the mode of "forms" or "accidents." But the "life" of the Infinite is not only centrifugal, it is also centripetal; it is alternately or simultaneously – depending on the relationships envisaged – Radiation and Reintegration; the latter is the apocatastatic "return" of forms and accidents into the Essence, without nevertheless there being anything added to the latter, for it is absolute Plenitude. Moreover, and even above all, Infinitude – like Perfection – is an intrinsic characteristic of the Absolute: it is as it were its inward life, or its love which by overflowing, so to speak prolongs itself and creates the world.

Only the definition of the Absolute as such is absolute, and every explanatory description belongs to relativity precisely on account of the differentiated nature of its content, which is not for that reason incorrect, to be sure, but rather, is limited and therefore replaceable; so that if one wishes to give an absolute definition of the Absolute, one has to say that God is One.

In metaphysics, it is necessary to start from the idea that the Supreme Reality is absolute, and that being absolute it is infinite. That is absolute which allows of no augmentation or diminution, or of no repetition or division; it is therefore that which is at once solely itself and totally itself. And that is infinite which is not determined by any limiting factor and therefore does not end at any boundary; it is in the first place Potentiality or Possibility as such, and ipso facto the Possibility of things, hence Virtuality. Without All-Possibility, there would be neither Creator nor creation, neither Maya nor Samsara. The Infinite is so to speak the intrinsic dimension of plenitude proper to the Absolute; to say Absolute is to say Infinite, the one being inconceivable without the other. We can symbolize the relation between these two aspects of Supreme Reality by the following images: in space, the absolute is the point, and the infinite is extension; in time, the absolute is the moment, and the infinite is duration. On the plane of matter, the absolute is the ether – the underlying and omnipresent primordial substance – whereas the infinite is the indefinite series of substances; on the plane of form, the absolute is the sphere – the simple, perfect and primordial form – and the infinite is the indefinite series of more or less complex forms; finally, on the plane of number, the absolute will be unity or unicity, and the infinite will be the unlimited series of numbers or possible quantities, or totality. The distinction between the Absolute and the Infinite expresses the two fundamental aspects of the Real, that of essentiality and that of potentiality; this is the highest principial prefiguration of the masculine and feminine poles. Universal Radiation, thus Maya both divine and cosmic, springs from the second aspect, the Infinite, which coincides with All-Possibility.

The Absolute, imperceptible as such, makes itself visible through the existence of things; in an analogous manner, the Infinite reveals itself
through their inexhaustible diversity; and similarly, Perfection manifests itself through the qualities of things, and in so doing, it communicates both the rigor of the Absolute and the radiance of the Infinite, for things have their musicality as well as their geometry.

Selected from a Glossary of the works of Frithjof Schuon.

Thomas
The Absolute made visible throught he existence of things-is that perhaps what the term "theophany" is implying? As to the Absolute-is that also perhaps what Eckhart was also getting at with his distinctions between "Godhead" and "God?" earl
 
Earl,

You asked,

"As to the Absolute-is that also perhaps what Eckhart was also getting at with his distinctions between "Godhead" and "God?"

--> Correct. Here is a chart I put together a little while ago.

http://users.ez2.net/nick29/theosophy/tabulation.htm

Eckhart's "godhead" refers to the Absolute, while his "God" refers to the Third Logos (The Son — our physical universe).

Earl, that was very good of you to pick up on that difference. Did you know about that before this discussion?
 
Well, you're entitled to that view, of course, but my tradition does not place a limit on the human possibility ... rather it harmonises the Salvation History of the Hebrews and the Philosophical Tradition of the Greeks, it's from the latter that we derive the term 'Absolute' in the first place.
Well, let's not play the "my penis is bigger" game, Thomas. It's quite juvenile, and there are boxing rings (in both your land and mine) where men can settle these kinds of differences. You can take your low blows there, if ever we find the opportunity, but don't expect the referee to let it slide so easily as your fan club here on the forums.

As for what Wikipedia has to say on The Absolute, please note carefully the following:
Where the basic division begins to appear between Eastern and Western spiritual tradition with regard to The Absolute, is in the separation of God from creation, nature, and the souls of men themselves. In Eastern thought this is not done, but in Western spirituality it often is.
Thomas said:
I tend to side with the likes of Plato and Aristotle — indeed, the Greek philosophical tradition generally — that we can speculate, and indeed we can reach certain truths through insight, inspiration, hard work and the grace of God.
Why, sure, and that's precisely what I believe, and have stated ... many times.

Thomas said:
There are a number of philosophical models that demonstrate that one indeed can say a great deal about the nature of the Absolute ... I shall post a more generic statement from a Sufi Sheik, an acknowledged master of Comparative Religion, later ...
Again, it depends on how you define `Absolute.' Perhaps you could tell me a little about what the Absolute looks like. Can you? Or how it sounds. Does it sound like `OM,' or perhaps `Amen?' Okay then, tell me how it tastes, smells or feels when you touch it. Can you do that?

Alright, alright, just describe how it makes you feel when you contact it. I mean, you know, contact it via your non-physical senses, your feelings, or perhaps with your MIND. Give me DETAILS, Thomas. How does the Absolute respond, when you address it. Yes, I mean you, personally.

Okay, then -- Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

Just speak, please, anyone here, about your experiences with, of, or as inspired BY -- THE ABSOLUTE. I would truly like to hear about that.

Thomas said:
Well there's your paradox: unless your knowledge is absolute in itself, that is unless you claim both omniscience and infallibility, you can't make absolute statements.
It seems to escape many people's observation, and realization, that in order to KNOW a thing (or person), one must have something in common with that thing (or person). There must be SOME means -- not just of communication -- but also of connection. And in Christianity I believe the term often used is Communion. It's just rather a pity that for so many -- myself included -- this term usually brings to mind a Sunday ritual involving bread (or wafers) and wine (or grape juice).

Thomas said:
But I understand if you believe strongly in the doctrines of your own tradition, but I must admit surprise that someone like yourself would accept such a limitation on human knowing ... but that is a sign of faith, I suppose.
Not sure whether the ref might blow a whistle on that one, but then, you won't knock me out of the ring so easily. As merely a gentle jab, I prefer to step to the side and say in response, "Oh I'm not the one putting limitations on human knowing. Who was it that just took the time to affirm the `Atma-Buddhi-Manas' of ancient Hinduism? The `Spiritual Triad' of 19th Century and current metaphysics? Ah yes; I thought that was me!"
 
Of course, the Fathers were well aware of Plotinus and Proclus ... but to answer you precisely:

Of course, Christianity, indeed the Abrahamic Traditions, refutes monism, precisely in defence of the Absolute! (Monism renders the absolute subject to change and alteration, growth and decay, expansion and contraction ... and indeed corruption ... )

This is not a fault of the Neoplatonists as such, simply they lacked the Data of Revelation.
This is course, is where you reveal something quote clearly, Thomas. Courtesy prevents me from saying anything except, "Absurd!" (to the earlier paragraph) and "Au contraire, mon frere!" (to the latter).

Thomas said:
So the Neplatonists say they can know of the Absolute (even if not absolutely) whereas you seem to adopt the Sceptical position, that one can know nothing.
Of that which is, by definition, BEYOND the manifest Cosmos, precisely NOTHING can be known. In order to know what lies on the other side of a veil, one must either LIFT that veil, or the veil must become lifted by some other agency. Excluding, for a moment, the possible third party whom or which might be doing the lifting, let us examine the two possibilities which remain.

Possibility one: You yourself do the lifting of the veil. Now, what remains? According to your `Data of Revelation,' God, the Absolute is on the other side of that veil. And you, no matter how "close" you may have been allowed to draw NEAR to God, shall always remain -- separate. And this, you maintain, is supposedly NECESSARY because, otherwise, so the argument runs, you would cease to exist as an individual being, apart & independent FROM God -- and thus there would be NO ONE, save GOD, to "appreciate God, be with God, enjoy God, praise God, experience God" (and you can pretty well fill in the blank with the verb of your choice).

Possibility two: It is God, rather than you, Who lifts the veil. What difference does this make? Absolutely NONE. If the absurdity of this scenario weren't already inherent in the fallacy being committed, we could explore. As it is, no difference occurs whatsoever. You still want to keep separate from God. And this is the only sin of the New Era ...

What do I say about the above scenario?

I'll summarize it thus: If I found myself in a position, where a FINAL CURTAIN clearly existed, between myself and the Ultimate Power (`God,' the ABSOLUTE of this thread of discussion) ... I'll tell you what I would NOT do. First off, I would NOT lift that final curtain, until and unless I was absolutely certain that this was what I ought to be doing!

Enter the man of Faith, to teach me about when we should and when we should not seek to draw the veil. If I play the waiting game, then just how long do you suppose it would actually be, before GOD was the one -- to draw that veil? Your problems begin here. Your Absolute has "his" hands in somebody's pie, if "HE" is either waiting or not waiting, desiring or not desiring, asking or not asking -- you, me, anyone -- to DRAW THAT VEIL.

Sure, you can talk about this version of an Absolute. But you have forgotten something. The Absolute can ONLY exist within what you and I call a vacuum. Otherwise, He/It does have a relation to you, me, whomever He/It wants, desires, seeks. I do not deny that we have relationships to our Spiritual Superiors; I have affirmed this all along.

What I say, is that on that highest rung, where neither you, nor I, can set his foot yet for many a long AEON, where the heights are truly dizzying, and the perspective is one that honest lips must confess is utterly unknown, unexerienced, unimaginable ... FROM such a hypothetical HIGHEST RUNG of Jacob's `Great Chain of Being' LADDER ...

... ONCE the man of Faith is finally ready to draw the final curtain -- oh bother, let's just say GOD does it for us, if we must -- ONCE we find the curtain being DRAWN ...

Oh wait, I think it's time for lunch!

Thomas said:
But I'm confused now ... on the one hand you insist one can know nothing of the absolute, on the other you want to champion those very philosophers who tell us we can ... ?
I think you have yet to really consider the meaning of "both-AND." Do you realize that a thing can be in two places at once? And this, just in terms of what we call physical reality?

In the exact same moment of TIME, this very instant, do you realize that it is possible to exist in MORE THAN ONE PLACE? Yes, this is proven, at subatomic levels ... are you familiar with that? If so, have you yet realized that it is also true, that it is also the ability, of the Adept?

I'm not asking for an explanation, much less a detailed exposition. I can provide neither. I only affirm -- that there are philosophical systems which can accommodate this kind of paradox, and that such systems do not fall apart under logical scrutiny, they do not defy the basic rules of logic ... while also leaving plenty of room for the Faith of any religion, yet find no need to INVOKE that Virtue, that Soul Quality, as a handy chimera, or stand-in, when true insight or understanding is really just plain lacking.

We can play charades if you like, but remember, if you are already behind the veil, it does not matter (where Truth is concerned) what the man outside has to say about you. He can speak ill, he can accuse you of failing to see or to understand. And he can insist, if he must, that you are not even behind that curtain at all ... and that your claims to the contrary are just your ego talking. Outta your hat, or -- the other end.

But if we can get past the -- Either you're on this side of the veil, or THAT side ... and understand that life consists of many veils, many curtains, many revelations (some great, some small), and Many Mansions ... then perhaps it will be a little bit easier to cut past the `us and them' BS, the with and without mindset (or affirmations), and even the "oh, but I know this, so you must be wrong!" kind of attitude.

Somewhere I was just reading recently about the wonderful feeling that comes with being right about something, yet the struggle that often follows when we wish to share this new revelation (yes, even the minor ones) with our neighbor. If we rush to him or her, and affirm, "I am RIGHT!" ... then the usual assumption, the automatic dichotomy -- most often a false one -- which is set up, is that whereby our neighbor hears us saying, "-- and you are wrong!"

Well, we might not have said that, or intended that, in the very least. All we wished to say, is that we realized something! And so I've been told, there is more than one way to skin a cat! :eek:

Back to the question of the Absolute, to be honest, I can't believe I'm wasting my time at this point ... though I suppose it may be only to clarify -- that I'm one of those people who thinks the Absolute is utterly BEYOND all possible description, qualification or understanding ... yet that the entire Cosmos exists because of the Absolute.

We live, and move and have our being inside of the Absolute, yet only insomuch as Cosmos is cyclically recreated, or emanated FROM the Absolute. It's not a question of "Which?" It's a matter of BOTH-AND. We may not be used to accepting this kind of apparent impossibility, or paradox, but then, if having one's cake & eating it too is possible, it certainly isn't in a world of the ordinary, now is it?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna states,
Having permeated this whole Cosmos with a fragment of myself, I remain.
Isn't it clear that Krishna speaks here from two perspectives at once. A man or woman who is sleeping in Bombay, yet appearing to us through a physical manifestation either in London, or Atlanta (or perhaps both), will have no trouble whatsoever grasping the implications of what Sri Krishna was inviting us to Ponder
 
Thomas,

You said,

"...you insist one can know nothing of the absolute...."

--> This is a common misconception. We know of five 'attributes' of the Absolute.

p-pralaya.gif



These five attributes are: Space, Duration (Time), The Great Breath (Motion), Primordial Matter (Mulaprakriti), and Divine Thought.

(1) Space

“Space is called in the esoteric symbolism ‘the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father.’ It is composed from its undifferentiated to its differentiated surface of seven layers. ‘What is that which was, is, and will be, whether there is a Universe or not; whether there be gods or none?’ asks the esoteric Senzar Catechism. And the answer made is — SPACE.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 9)

(2) Duration (Time)

Time does not exist within a Pralaya, but there is something called Duration.

“Kronos stands for endless (hence immovable) Duration, without beginning, without an end, beyond divided Time and beyond Space.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 418)

The phrase “limitless Time” is used.

“The Circle was with every nation the symbol of the Unknown — ‘Boundless Space,’ the abstract garb of an ever present abstraction — the Incognisable Deity. It represents limitless Time in Eternity.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 113)

Time does not exist [between universes]. However, a periodic measurement called “Seven Eternities” passes and ends.

“The Eternal Parent (Space) wrapped in Her ever invisible robes had slumbered once again for seven eternities.” (The Secret Doctrine, Stanza i-1-1)

(3) Great Breath (Motion)

The Great Breath is the name of Eternal Motion, a Motion that continues even [between universes].

[The Absolute's] “...one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlance the ‘Great Breath,’ which is the perpetual motion of the universe, in the sense of limitless, ever-present SPACE.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 2)

(4) Primordial Matter (Mulaprakriti)

Undifferentiated Mulaprakriti (Father-Mother) “exists” even [between universes]. .

“...precosmic root-substance (Mulaprakriti) is that aspect of the Absolute which underlies all the objective planes of Nature.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 15)

(5) Divine Thought

Divine Thought is a term used often in The Secret Doctrine.

“...the whole Kosmos has sprung from the DIVINE THOUGHT. This thought impregnates matter, which is co-eternal with the ONE REALITY....” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 340)

“...during the prologue, so to say, of the drama of Creation, or the beginning of cosmic evolution, the Universe or the "Son" lies still concealed "in the Divine Thought," which had not yet penetrated "into the Divine Bosom." ” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 61)

“The solitary ray dropping into the mother deep may be taken as meaning Divine Thought or Intelligence, impregnating chaos.” (SD vol 1 p 65)

Divine Thought is never defined, but it is an aspect of the Absolute.

“Divine thought cannot be defined, or its meaning explained, except by the numberless manifestations of Cosmic Substance in which the former is sensed spiritually by those who can do so.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 327)

Divine Thought is not similar to conscious, human-like thought.

“The Absolute cannot be said to have a consciousness, or, at any rate, a consciousness such as we have here. It has neither consciousness, nor desire, nor wish, nor thought, because it is absolute thought, absolute desire, absolute consciousness, absolute "all." ” (The Secret Doctrine, vol 1 p 15)

Divine Thought is eternal, while Divine Ideation is periodical.

“In the ABSOLUTE or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not so exist; but Divine Ideation is limited by the [appearances of universes].” (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, vol 2 pp. 10-11)
 
Hi Earl – Nice question!

The Absolute made visible through the existence of things — is that perhaps what the term "theophany" is implying?
It is in my book ...

As to the Absolute — is that also perhaps what Eckhart was also getting at with his distinctions between "Godhead" and "God?"
Yes ... and no ...

If, as it seems, Eckhart is implying a 'Godhead' as distinct from 'God', then he's talking not about a Trinity, but a Quaternity ... Holy Spirit, Son, Father, Godhead ... But I don't think he is, so what is he talking about?

I think he's working with the distinction that Christ made ... between "the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28) and "And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one" (John 17:22-23)

Note: Jesus says, in what is effectively a prayer to the Father: "I in them, and thou in me" which is staggering, really, because if He was a man only, He must say "and me in thee" to God, not "thou in me" ... but leaving that aside.

From the Fathers on, there is a distinction between oikonomia and theologia — the former is the 'Divine Economy' — the realisation of God's plan for man's salvation, the latter the knowledge of the Divine in Its own nature.

Christ's first statement is of the order of oikonomia, for in the plan of Salvation, the Cross looms large, and the Son embodies the relationship of low to high ... the Divine Dispensation ... He is sent into the world to do His Father's bidding ...

In the latter, and it's extended and worth reading ... that is pure theologia, we, through the Holy Spirit, are one in the Son (one body), and the Son is in the Father, we are all one ...and all one perfectly ... without distinction ... not only is there nothing that separates us ... there is no 'us' ...

Think about it ... He's talking 'off the record', aloud, among friends, normally He goes off alone to pray, but not tonight ... although He will, later ... but here, in the upper room, bread eaten, wine drunk ... the apostles hanging on His every word, can you imagine what it must have been like to witness that? Can you imaging the atmosphere in the room? The silence that roars, the stillness that hums ... the pins that drops, and you watch it, and it takes a thousand years to spin through space and hit the ground ... you know those moments?

... oh, Lordy Lord ...

OK ... back to reality: Remembering that Eckhart was preaching to his Dominican brothers, its hardly surprising that he might, among friends, engage in deep speculation ... so I think he's talking about life in the theological Trinity, not the ecomomical Trinity ... he's into deep apophatic theology ... not even in terms of negatives (the 'norm' of apophatic theology), but beyond that, into a theology of being beyond all terms, all distinction, whatsoever. Deep ... deep ... deep ...

I think there's a correlation with Dionysius the Areopagite here, I'll try and track it down.

Does that make sense?

Thomas
 
Namaste all,

i've always found this conversation to be both pointless and instructive but that's just me :)

in any event, Andrew X is correct, that which is defined as beyond human knowledge cannot thereby be known by human knowledge. if one changes the definition of "asbolute" to something that is within ability of the human mind to grasp then something can be said of it.

as it stands beings simply related their experience with the ineffable and ascribe all manner of things to the ineffable which, by definition, cannot have those attributes... if it did it wouldn't be ineffable after all.

in the Buddhist forumlae of such considerations there are several explanations provided in various Suttas to different beings. by and large the Suttas indicate that which is ineffable cannot be directly apprehended by human cognition. we can develop an insight into it's nature but we, humans, are unable to grasp it with our mind and thus we do not know it in the least.

of course some of this discussion goes back to protocol statements and discussions on what constitutes evidence and all of that sort of thing. it is, in fact, a very complex conversation that requires a fair amount of personal study on various points of view to come to a broad understanding of the subject which belies its complex nature by using a single term.

the only Absolute that i can actually talk about is the Vodka.

metta,

~v
 
Earl,

You asked,

"As to the Absolute-is that also perhaps what Eckhart was also getting at with his distinctions between "Godhead" and "God?"

--> Correct. Here is a chart I put together a little while ago.

http://users.ez2.net/nick29/theosophy/tabulation.htm

Eckhart's "godhead" refers to the Absolute, while his "God" refers to the Third Logos (The Son — our physical universe).

Earl, that was very good of you to pick up on that difference. Did you know about that before this discussion?
yeah-actually the first thread I ever started here when I joined 3+years ago I entitled "the zen of Meister Eckhart.":) V- I lump theoretical discussions re the absolute in the same category as re to "God," sometimes fun excursions but nothing 1 can really "pin down." On the other hand, dialogue about the many ways one attempts to relate to that which is beyond a limited, conventional sense of reality and/or self, now that's where the rubber meets the road as it were. earl
 
Earl,

I, too, am impressed that Eckhart was able to realize that the Absolute is not the same as the Triple-Logos. Such concepts are not common in western religions.

You said,

"I lump theoretical discussions re the absolute in the same category as re to "God,"

--> I find that fascinating, especially when my belief system makes a clear distinction between the Absolute and God. I am taking a very complicated subject and oversimplifying it here, but God is the deity which appears periodically from the Absolute.

"...that which is beyond a limited, conventional sense of reality and/or self...."

--> This is a case of our finite minds trying to understand the infinite. It is impossible ... but it sure is fun trying!
 
Nick, this little Eckhart jewel is for you:

"When I came out from God, that is into multiplicity, then all proclaimed 'There is a God.' Now this cannot make me blessed, for hereby I realize myself as creature. But in the breaking through, I am more than all creatures, I am neither God nor creature; I am that which I was and shall remain evermore. There I receive a thrust which carries me above all angels. By this sudden touch I am become so rich that God is not sufficient for me, so far as he is only God and in all his divine works. For in this breaking through I perceive what God and I are in common. There I am what I was. There I neither increase nor decrease. For there I am the immovable which moves all things. Here man has won again what he is eternally and ever shall be. Here God is received into the soul." earl
 
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